Feline Herpesvirus-1 accounts for 50% - 80% of upper respiratory tract infections in cats worldwide.
TRANSMISSION: Direct contact with a sick or a carrier cat. Organisms can survive in the environment for up to 18 hours. The virus is found in discharges from the mouth, eyes, and nose. The virus may also be spread by sneezing or sharing contaminated food and water bowls, litter boxes, grooming utensils, kennels, or other surfaces.
RISK FACTORS: Catteries, boarding facilities, or multi-cat households provide the greatest opportunities for exposure.
INCUBATION PERIOD: 2 to 10 days
SYMPTOMS: Lack of appetite, lethargy, fever, drooling, nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, occasional respiratory distress in severe cases.
Conjunctivitis may be present with red swollen, weepy eyes, and squinting. In severe cases, the corneas may become ulcerated. This will need immediate veterinary attention.
Occasionally, sores may appear on the face and bridge of nose.
More severe cases occur in very young kittens or debilitated geriatric cats. Young kittens have a mortality rate of up to 70% with Herpesvirus. Infections in young cats may lead to persistent or recurrent nasal bacterial infections.
CARRIER STATE: 80% to 100% of cats become chronic carriers after primary infection.
Stresses such as travel, moving, boarding, other illnesses, steroid use, pregnancy, and lactation may cause viral shedding and a relapse of symptoms. Spontaneous shedding may even occur in 29% of cats in a carrier state. Shedding typically occurs 4 to 11 days after the stress and lasts one or two weeks.
DIAGNOSIS: Immunofluorescent Assay, Viral Isolation, or Conjunctival Smear or simply response to therapy.
Keep infected cats in a different room from uninfected cats and wash hands after handling sick cats.L-lyisne will reduce severity of the outbreak. See veterinarian for instructions.Decongestants may be necessary in serious cases. Some decongestants may be harmful to your cat. Consult your veterinarian before use.Antibiotics as necessary for secondary infections.Hospitalization including fluid support, nutritional support, nursing care, and airway humidification may be necessary in advanced cases.Eye medications may be necessary and in advanced cases, surgery may be warranted for severe corneal ulcerations.
PREVENTION: Annual vaccination against Feline Herpesvirus-1 will greatly reduce your cat's risk of contracting the virus as well as reduce the severity of the disease should your cat be exposed.
When taking in stray cats, it is best to have a veterinarian conduct a wellness exam as well as test for Feline Leukemia and AIDS, before introducing the new cat to current household cats.